By Muhammad Bah
At the National Assembly sitting on Thursday, 8th August, 2014, the Standing Committee on Local Government and Lands presented a report in which they highlighted administrative and financial lapses in different municipalities and area councils. This report came on the heels of a nationwide tour conducted by the Committee which visited the various municipal and area councils.
In presenting the report, Hon. Sainey Mbye, National Assembly Member for Upper Saloum and Chairperson of the Standing Committee, said the tour was meant “to investigate or inquire into activities or administration of ministries or departments of the government and such investigation may be extended to make proposals and legislation of public importance.”
Hon. Mbye said Section (3) accorded the Committee with powers, rights and privileges as are vested in the high court.
He said during the visit they have investigated and found out that the councils have owed a lot to the people and that they have asked them to be accountable and ensure that 60% of their revenue is ploughed back to the taxpayers.
The Committee report further advises the municipal, regional and wards councils to maintain community driven development approaches towards project implementation and to avoid the duplication of efforts.
It states that the Permanent Secretary of the Ministry of Local Government and Lands informed the Committee that steps are being taken to ensure that 60% of the revenue of councils is ploughed back to the people, adding that the PS also highlighted the challenges and constraints they are also facing. It noted that the PS identified inadequate capacity at the development control unit and other technical problems as factors hindering their work.
The National Assembly Committee on Local Government and Lands Report observed that the joining together of the Cartography and Lithography units under the Department of Lands and Survey, renders the two units ineffective and creates and overlap. It noted that the Department has acknowledged the problems of inadequate trained personnel, logistics or lack of equipment.
The report also states that the department has noted that estate developers do not compensate traditional land owners.
It recommended for the ministry to sensitise the general public to know about the availability of maps as well as the department’s mandate and also for estate developers to be issued with operational licenses before developing any land and to compensate the traditional land owners.
The Committee’s report also recommended for the government to provide the necessary logistics for the smooth operation of the institutions dealing with land administration.
The report noted that the Physical Planning and Development Control Act 1991 is supposed to guide the department in their work in the demarcation of all lands in the country.
It was noted that the Housing Policy which was reviewed in 1989 is obsolete and the Committee tasked the Physical Planning Department to review it. The Committee also recommended for the department to sensitize the general public on the erection of illegal structures in order to avoid demolition and prevent chaos in the country.